For Grades 9-12 , week of May 31, 2021

1. Marijuana Candies

Marijuana is becoming legal in more and more states for medical and recreational use. Yet it still is causing controversy. The latest source of conflict? Candy. Some of the nation’s biggest candy makers are angry that marijuana companies have created edible products that look like popular candies such as Skittles, Starbursts and Life Savers. The Wrigley company, which is owned by Mars, has even gone so far as to file a lawsuit against five marijuana companies seeking to stop them from selling candy look-alikes, the New York Times reports. Other companies have filed suits over marijuana edibles that look like Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups, Heath Bars, Almond Joy bars and York Peppermint Patties. In the lawsuits the candy companies argue the marijuana companies are violating intellectual property rights and brand trademarks. But also at issue is the concern that small children will mistake the colorful marijuana products with the candies they look like and eat them by mistake. The legal sale of marijuana is presenting new challenges for communities, states and businesses. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these challenges. Use what you read to write an editorial analyzing some of these challenges and how they can be dealt with.

Common Core State Standards: Producing clear and coherent writing in which the development, organization and style are appropriate to the task; reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them.

2. Fan Art Winner

When U.S. Representative Andy Kim picked the winner in the Congressional Art Competition for his district in New Jersey, he was only thinking about the striking imagery of the cubist artwork by Kathleen Palmer. The painting showed two men looking at each other, one writing in a notebook and the other with antlers. What he did not know was that the work was inspired by the canceled TV show “Hannibal,” and the imagery hints at a romantic relationship between the men. Now this unusual example of “fan art” will get a wider audience — in a display at the U.S. Capitol building. “Hannibal,” which went off the air in 2015, explored the relationship of the serial killer Hannibal Lechter (of “Silence of the Lambs” fame) and a young FBI agent. Palmer painted the picture after getting hooked on the show last year during the coronavirus shutdown and never dreamed it would end up in the U.S. Capitol. Thanks to Representative Kim, it will. Fan art celebrates TV shows, movies and other popular events by showing scenes that have appeared or imagining new ones. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about TV shows, movies or other attractions of pop culture. Use what you read to create a piece of “fan artwork” offering your take on one show or movie. Give your artwork a title and write a paragraph explaining how you want people to react.

Common Core State Standards: Using drawings or visual displays when appropriate to enhance the development of main ideas or points; writing informative/explanatory texts to examine a topic and convey ideas and information clearly.

3. Vaccine Milestone

Ever since the first coronavirus vaccine came on the market, the goal of the United States has been to get a majority of citizens vaccinated. Last week, the nation took a giant step toward that goal, when health officials reported that more than 50 percent of adults have been fully vaccinated. Now health officials are taking aim at President Biden’s goal of having 160 million people fully vaccinated by the Fourth of July — Independence Day. Vaccine numbers are expected to rise in June with vaccines becoming available for people younger than 18. The Pfizer vaccine recently was approved for people as young as 12, and the Moderna vaccine is awaiting approval after tests show it to be effective for younger users. Many adolescents and teens are eager to be vaccinated so they can “return to normal.” In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about teens who look forward to vaccinations. Use what you read to write a letter to the editor encouraging teens and adolescents to get vaccinated. Use details from your reading to support your position.

Common Core State Standards: Reading closely what written and visual texts say and to making logical inferences from them; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

4. Vroom! An Auto Prom

Missing out on prom has been one of the great disappointments for high school students during the coronavirus epidemic. But when one high school in the state of Virginia had trouble finding a place for a safe prom, it got unexpected help — from a car dealership. In the city of Covington, the Wright Way Motors dealership stepped up when parents and school officials discovered that fewer venues were available for proms this year, and the ones that were cost too much. Brandon Wright, who owns Wright Motors across the street from Covington High School, offered his 5,000-square-foot showroom, the Washington Post newspaper reported. “We really wanted to make it special for them, considering the year they had,” Wright said. Through the work of parents and other volunteers, the dealership was transformed into a glittery entertainment venue, with a dance floor, photo room, food and beverage stations and an outdoor seating area. “You would have never known it was at a car dealership,” Wright said. “We made it look like it was a beautiful resort.” Communities across the nation are taking unusual steps to make sure proms and other high school events take place this year. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about some of these efforts. Use what you read to write a personal column highlighting some of the best ideas. Include an unusual place in your community where a prom might be held.

Common Core State Standards: Writing opinion pieces on topics or texts, supporting a point of view with reasons and information; citing specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions.

5. World’s Largest Iceberg

The loss of ice at the Earth’s North and South Poles is a major worry for scientists studying climate change and global warming. So when a giant slab of ice broke off in Antarctica to form the world’s largest iceberg, scientists took notice. The iceberg broke off from the edge of the Ronne Ice Shelf and tumbled into the Weddell Sea. And while some scientists said the break — or “calving” — event was part of the natural life of the ice shelf, others viewed it with alarm as a sign of further effects of climate change. The iceberg measures about 1,668 square miles in size, which makes it about half the size of the U.S. territory of Puerto Rico in the Caribbean Sea. The calving of the Ronne iceberg is the second iceberg event in Antarctica in the last three months. In March an iceberg larger than New York City broke off from the Brunt Ice Shelf. Scientists are closely watching the health of ice shelves, glaciers and sea ice at the Earth’s North and South Poles. In the newspaper or online, find and closely read stories about changes or new developments involving polar ice. Use what you read to prepare a multi-media presentation detailing some of the changes and their importance. Present to family, friends or classmates.

Common Core State Standards: Integrating information presented in different media or formats to develop a coherent understanding of a topic; conducting short research projects that build knowledge about a topic.